Chinese autonomous driving company WeRide is acquiring Chinese autonomous trucking startup MoonX.AI, the companies announced July 20, a sign of the accelerating growth of driverless technology in China.
Established in 2017, WeRide is headquartered in Guangzhou, China, and has received backing from the Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi Alliance, as well as Chinese automaker Yutong, the world’s largest bus manufacturer by sales volume. In April, the startup became the first company in the world to hold permits to conduct fully driverless testing on public roads in both China and the United States.
“We are excited to welcome MoonX.AI to join the WeRide family,” Tony Han, founder and CEO of WeRide, said in a statement. “With our shared vision and belief in autonomous driving and the continued expansion of our engineering team, WeRide is committed to accelerating the commercialization of driverless technology and leading the industry to achieve further innovations and breakthroughs.”
MoonX.AI currently operates a fleet of more than 20 self-driving passenger vehicles and trucks. Established in 2018, it has completed open road tests and trial operations in Shenzhen, Xiamen and Quanzhou in China, along with more than 300,000 kilometers of autonomous testing.
The acquisition will bring more than 50 experienced engineers from MoonX.AI to WeRide. Qingxiong Yang, founder and CEO of MoonX.AI, will serve as vice president of WeRide and dean of the WeRide Research Institute.
“Dr. Yang and his highly accomplished team have best-in-class technological expertise, as well as operational know-how in the commercial application of driverless technology,” Han said in a statement.
Prior to founding MoonX.AI, Yang had served as senior director of autonomous driving in DiDi Chuxing, China’s top ride-hailing service, and an assistant professor in computer science at the City University of Hong Kong. He will be responsible for WeRide’s autonomous driving products innovation, while overseeing the company’s research institute. WeRide also announced the opening of its Shenzhen branch, which will operate under Yang’s leadership.
“WeRide has been a leader in the research, development and commercialization of L4 autonomous driving technology and remain committed to the industry’s long-term growth,” Yang said in a statement. “I am looking forward to bringing my industry experience and working alongside the dedicated team to deliver further breakthroughs and broader applications of fully autonomous driving technology.”
This deal is just one of many recent autonomous driving technology partnerships in China. For example, in April, Volvo announced it was teaming with DiDi Chuxing to develop autonomous vehicles for self-driving taxis, and in May, Toyota-backed self-driving car startup Pony.ai revealed it was partnering with automotive LiDAR firm Luminar on a new autonomous driving platform.